Wind power is one of the most promising forms of renewable energy today, and for good reason. Its benefits are many, environmental drawbacks are few, and it’s an invaluable component of our energy mix. In this article, you’ll learn about wind power and why it’s so important in today’s world of rising oil prices and declining supplies of finite fossil fuels.
What Is Wind Power?
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) , wind power is a wind energy system that “transforms the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical or electrical energy that can be harnessed for practical use.” This conversion of wind energy into electrical energy is accomplished thorough the use of wind turbines of varying types and sizes.
Experiencing Wind Power
Recently I had the opportunity to stand next to a gigantic 50-megawatt wind turbine, and the experience was amazing. As I gazed up into the deep blue sky and watched the turbine spin intermittently in the gusty wind, the whirring and humming was unmistakable. Walking around the wide base, I inspected the large electrical generation box on the side. It was such an amazing feeling to know that at this very moment, clean, renewable energy was being produced from the cool breezes all around me.
The Great Texas Wind Boom
In the big state of Texas, wind power is quickly becoming the new oil boom. Dozens of expansive wind farms boasting up to 500 wind turbines are increasingly cropping up all over the state. West Texas is particularly favored as a prime wind energy locale due to its near-constant 17-mile per hour wind speeds. But moreover, wind power is one of the most eco-friendly forms of renewable energy today.
Environmental Benefits of Wind Power
According to the American Wind Energy Association, “Wind energy system operations do not generate air or water emissions and do not produce hazardous waste. Nor do they deplete natural resources such as coal, oil, or gas, or cause environmental damage through resource extraction and transportation, or require significant amounts of water during operation. Wind’s pollution-free electricity can help reduce the environmental damage caused by power generation in the U.S. and worldwide.”
Environmental Drawbacks of Wind Power
Indeed, wind energy sounds like a perfect source of renewable energy. But as in all forms of energy production, fossil fuel or renewable, some impact on the environment is felt. The American Wind Energy Association cites mainly local impacts including avian (bird and bat) deaths and erosion. However, with careful planning these impacts can be minimized. Also, noise pollution can be a problem as well with large wind turbines spinning their blades. This is why at present wind power must be generated at a distance from cities.
Future Wind Energy Projects
In the future, wind turbines will become smaller, more efficient, and less noisy. Vertical axis wind turbines will enable wind power to be generated inside cities and alongside homes. Communities may endeavor to generate shared power.
Wind power is growing in popularity as a clean, eco-friendly renewable. The ecological impact on surrounding areas is minimal, and adding this important renewable to our current energy mix will help the world decrease reliance on finite energy derived from fossil fuels.